In case you missed it, here’s the beginning of the Journey – https://theinflightlife.com/cancer-interrupts-life/
January 10, 2018
My planned second surgery to get the rest of the cancer cells out would be the next day. As I mentioned last time, cancer interrupts your life and just when you think you’ve got the plan. The rug gets yanked out from under you. It was Wednesday, the day before my second surgery. I was mentally preparing to go through recovery once again. I will admit, when you are healing from incisions, the thought of having to start over is not pleasant. As I was looking at the emails on my phone, my surgeon’s phone number popped up and he was calling. I’ll stop here and say, that most of the time when your surgeon is calling a day before your surgery it’s almost never good. I answered and heard my kind-hearted doctor say, “Well, I just got the results of your genetic testing…”
Genes can bite you in the rear.
I took genetics in high school and it was one of my favorite classes. To see out how genes get passed along from parents to children is always fascinating. What high school genetics did not cover, in-depth, where those genes that hideaway for a generation or two and then pop up to shock an unsuspecting recipient. Prior to this call, my doctor was pretty confident that I did not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 cancer genes since I did not have a family history of breast cancer in my immediate family. Fortunately, I don’t have either of those genes! Phew!
However, a gene did show up called CHEK2.
Normally, this gene is supposed to help in cell division and suppressing tumors. Mine apparently mutated and therefore affected my risk of developing cancer in the first place. Because of this, my breast cancer risk was not only elevated, but there is an increased risk of colon cancer. That cancer does run in my family. With this new info, we had to really look at my current treatment plan. I already got breast cancer, but my risk of it returning with my conservative treatment went up to 30%. Previously, it was only 1% chance of reoccurrence with a lumpectomy and radiation. Thirty percent is a HUGE increase. My doctor said I could continue in my current treatment, but then he said, “If this were my wife, I wouldn’t want to risk that chance and would suggest she have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction.”
This is not the route I wanted to take.
I wanted to get in there, get the cancer out of my body. Heal. Go to flight attendant training. Done. Now, I was faced with the decision of a more complex and invasive treatment that would put off training even longer. But….to take this radical route would also mean taking away the risk of having to deal with breast cancer ever again. Honestly, as much as I did not want to be on this path, I really don’t ever want to deal with cancer again. It is emotionally and physically draining. Add to that the financial hit to our family, it was an easy decision to make.
I’m saying Ta-Ta to the tatas.
My surgery is scheduled for February 8th. I am having a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Reconstruction does not mean I’m going to have an awesome looking chest after surgery. It means we are taking steps to reconstruct what we are taking away. One thing to note. I have no problem with people getting boob jobs (enhancements or reductions) if I had extra cash I might have considered a bit of an improvement, but implants for personal improvement and implants for a reconstruction are completely different things. Implants for personal improvement means one made a decision to enhance their natural breast independently. I am completely losing my breasts. There will be no breast tissue to help support the implant and it’s not a quick fix. After this surgery, once the area has been expanded enough for implants, I will need surgery again. Lots of steps to get to the desired result of being cancer-free with a normal looking chest. This journey has revealed how people respond when they find out you have breast cancer or find out your next steps. A lot of extreme acts of kindness and a few surprises of apathy. That might be one of my next posts. Until then…I appreciate the prayers, good vibes, light, and love.